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Chamber
UNEXPECTED ARENSKY AND MENDELSSOHN BY THE NAVARRO
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, February 17, 2019
The 100 people entering Schroeder Hall Feb. 17 for a Trio Navarro concert were handed a program that appeared to feature two popular piano trios, Mendelssohn and Arensky. But continuing the Navarro’s tradition of repertoire exploration, the pieces were not the usual first Mendelssohn and first Aren...
Symphony
MENDELSSOHN'S SCOTTISH SAVES THE EVENING IN SRS WEILL CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Monday, February 11, 2019
The audience entering Weill Hall for Santa Rosa Symphony concerts Feb. 9-11 were presented with a program that on first glance appeared a curious patchwork – a great symphony mixed with a seldom heard concerto and two disparate overtures, and a guest conductor unknown locally. Monday night’s concer...
Recital
INTRIGUING BELL-HAYWOOD RECITAL BEFORE FULL HOUSE IN WEILL HALL
by Abby Wasserman
Friday, February 08, 2019
A big portion of the capacity audience in Weill Hall February 8th came to hear violinist Joshua Bell’s virtuosity, and were treated as well to splendid playing from Sam Haywood, Mr. Bell’s regular pianist since 2010. The duo performed three engaging sonatas, highlighted by Mr. Bell’s sterling techn...
Symphony
TRIPLE PLAY UKIAH SYMPHONY CONCERT AND TCHAIKOVSKY SERENADE
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Over the years the Ukiah Symphony’s concerts have been in the Classical Sonoma Calendar sections, but rarely has this Orchestra, now in its 39th season, had a full winter season concert review. The provocative Jan. 27 program in Mendocino College’s Center Theater seemed a good reason to reacquaint ...
Symphony
JACKSON THEATER WELCOMES A NEW RESIDENT ORCHESTRA
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Moving to a permanent new performance venue can be a perilous undertaking for an orchestra, with different acoustics, the loyal audience finding the new spot and infrastructure challenges of lighting and lobby and backstage operations. In their first concert Jan. 26 in Windsor’s Jackson Theater the...
Symphony
ECLECTIC PASSIONATE PROGRAMMING AT MARIN SYMPHONY CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The Marin Symphony’s second Masterworks concert of the 2018-19 season featured works by John Adams, Sibelius and Brahms, a masterful assembly. In a spoken introduction before the program’s first half, conductor Alasdair Neale primed the audience for the “terra incognita” of Adams’ The Chairman Dance...
Symphony
A SLICE OF HEAVEN FROM THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Under its vibrant new music director, Francesco Lecce-Chong, the Santa Rosa Symphony this past Sunday offered a nearly perfect afternoon of Mozart (Symphony No. 40) and Mahler (Symphony No. 4). While the two works share a common digit, the only element uniting them is genius. They made for a dazzlin...
Recital
KHOZYAINOV'S BRILLIANT PIANISM IN MILL VALLEY RECITAL
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, January 13, 2019
In its third concert of the season the Mill Valley Chamber Music Society Jan. 13 presented Russian virtuoso Nikolay Khozyainov. His intelligent and sensitive interpretations, masterful pedal work, and virtuoso technique left the near-capacity audience in Mt. Tamalpais Methodist Church astounded and ...
Chamber
A COMPLETE MUSICAL PACKAGE IN ARRON'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Cellist Edward Arron has been a welcome artist at the Music at Oakmont series, and after his Jan. 10 recital it’s easy to understand his popularity. His artistry is a complete package, with potent instrumental technique wedded to integral musical conceptions. In a nearly flawless concert with pian...
Choral and Vocal
COMPELLING WEILL HALL MESSIAH ORATORIO FROM THE ABS
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, December 15, 2018
Each holiday season when a Classical Sonoma reviewer is assigned to cover a concert with Handel’s seminal Oratorio The Messiah, the question arises about what new commentary can possibly apply to the often performed choral work. Well, if it’s the American Bach Soloists performing the piece, written...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Venice Baroque Orchestra / Saturday, October 27, 2018
Anna Fusek (recorder), Massimo Raccanelli Zaborra (cello) and Giampiero Zanocco (violin), soloists

Recorder Player Anna Fusek

VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This renowned period instrument ensemble, elegantly clad in black and always standing, took a journey to early 18th century Venice through Vivaldi’s music.

The Sinfonia in G commenced the evening with a first a burst of energy, then lyrical lines juxtaposed with leaps and trills, clear unisons and phrases always subtly shaped and shaded. This joyous mood was followed by a plaintive movement, almost sad and resigned which in turn led to a jolly folk dance movement full of flourishes and surprising twists.

The next piece was one of the numerous Vivaldi concertos, this one a double concerto in d minor for violin (Gianpiero Zanocco) and recorder player Anna Fusek. Sections of allegro were followed by largos with many contrasting themes and echoes. The dissonances were exquisite as always in Vivaldi’s compositions. Pulsing basses phrases made sweeping statements, and the soloists interacted with great charm and at times the violin and recorder evoked a human voice and an angelic responding song. This composition was followed by wild applause. The E Minor Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo started in a dark mood with a sighing half step motive moving into agitated tremolos and feats of virtuosic violin solo playing with occasional startling spiccato passages. The largo movement contrasted intimate and fragile moments with emphatic statements and the final allegro featured Mr. Zanocco’s dazzling solo violin playing, phrased with ease and humor.

Vivaldi’s music is full of his expected compositional techniques: imitations, echoes, tremolos, fast passages with contrasting calm sections, dramatic gestures, and at the same time intimate tenderness. The music is both predictable and spontaneous, easy to listen to and also startling and intriguing.

In the B Flat Violin-Cello Concerto (RV 547) gave off fireworks in the orchestra and arpeggios in profusion. The andante was pastoral and delicately sweet, featuring a chamber music size ensemble. Then off to a galloping hunt with exciting fast cello passages from Massimo Raccanelli becoming at times like the sound of fluttering bird wings.

The first half of the concert concluded with enthusiastic ovations from the audience, and following intermission the orchestra presented Sinfonia in C (RV 717) from the opera Il Giustino, and then the Concerto in A Minor for cello, played as a last minute substitution by Mr. Raccanelli. The ensemble was impeccable. The cellist alternated passages of dizzying speed with a lovely slow movement full of subtle rubatos and expressiveness, leading to the last movement using stark staccatos, buzzing effects and a unison pizzicato ending.

Corelli’s La Follia was the theme for Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso, in D Minor (H. 143). The many short variation movements had a rich textured sound, with much virtuoso playing and a delightful amount of humor.

These elements of humor and color reached a climax in the Concerto in D Major for recorder (“Il Gardellino” - The Goldfinch), RV 428. Often played by a flute, Ms. Fusek created pure magic on her instrument as she trilled and warbled, chirped and soared, interacting with her colleagues and the audience in an unforgettable performance. The audience gave a standing ovation, gratefully acknowledging this exceptional concert.

Two encores were offered. The first was an arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhasody in Blue with featuring Ms. Fusek, and it was a humorous escapade. The entire ensemble returned with the presto “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The many tremolos were played with precision and beauty.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review